For Kentucky-born George Clooney, being cast as “ER” physician Dr. Doug Ross came as a major turning point in the actor’s two-decade long career. Up until “ER’s” 1994 premiere, Clooney had entertained TV audiences with several recurring guest spots on popular shows like “The Facts of Life,” “Roseanne” and “Sisters,” but had yet to land a role as a series regular. From the start, the handsome actor struck gold as Dr. Ross, enticing viewers – especially female viewers – throughout the country with his bad boy persona and classic good looks.
We were shooting in Chicago,” remembered Clooney’s “ER” co-star Eriq La Salle. “And we passed by an office building. These women literally came out and started running after us. George and I are like… we’re running! Literally, it was like a cartoon. We ducked into an alley. This herd of women went by. We’re in the alley, we just looked at each other and we’re like, ‘What the?’ It was the beginning.”
George Clooney’s mania-inducing charm wasn’t the only factor contributing to his five successful years on “ER.” His compelling performance won him two Primetime Emmys, three Golden Globes and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards. Clooney’s stint as “ER’s” resident heartthrob served as the foundation for an incredibly successful film career, and the decorated actor continues to enchant audiences around the world.
George Clooney Takes On TV Guide
During his time on “ER,” actor George Clooney was much more than just a pretty face. Clooney was also a leader amongst his cohort on the set, willing to stand up for his co-stars when they were wronged. In 1997, the actor noticed that while the popular magazine TV Guide was repeatedly featuring “ER’s” white actors on its covers, it neglected to run a single African-American star for its cover photo. As it turned out, “ER” star Eriq La Salle was the only original cast member — a group that included Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies, Sherry Stringfield and, of course, Clooney — that hadn’t yet graced the cover of the top television weekly.
“George really mounted a campaign,” La Salle explained, recalling the incident. “He’d done a lot of research. He found out, for instance, with TV Guide at that time, that they had historically had more cartoon characters on their covers than they had had African-Americans.”
Outraged at the inequality he discovered, Clooney stepped up, organizing his co-stars into an official TV Guide boycott and speaking out publicly about the magazine’s ineptitude. He wrote a strongly worded letter to the magazine and encouraged his cast mates to cancel their planned photo shoots. The controversy caused quite a stir and TV Guide responded, giving Eriq La Salle a prominent cover story later that year.
“We all learned the power of George’s pen,” “ER” co-star Noah Wyle chuckled, years later. “He writes a very good letter.”